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Psychopomp

Source Bestiary 4 pg. 217
All life has its beginning and its end. From the moment of birth, everything that shrieks and struggles upon the Material Plane crawls toward a singular finale, that fatal climax that grants passage into the unimaginable infinities of the afterlife. As the spirits of the deceased flow from the confusion of mortality to their ultimate fates, they are each judged by the gods of death, who assure that all who die reach their prescribed afterlife. Yet with all the worlds of the Material Plane, the countless faces and exceptions of mortality, and all those who would turn fate and finality to their own devices, death as a system and institution requires more agents than a single deity or pantheon to uphold. These agents are the psychopomps—denizens of Purgatory and the dispassionate stewards, chroniclers, and guides of all that die.

Psychopomps preside over the flow of life. Their primary concerns focus upon souls in the vulnerable transition between death and their final destinations upon the planes. Psychopomps carry out their duties with the dispassion of veterans and cynics. In terms of service measuring in ages, psychopomps meet countless souls from innumerable worlds, and soon nearly every story, fate, plea, and exception becomes all too familiar. They care little for the histories or personalities of the souls that pass them by, concerned only for the efficient and unvaried processing of each spirit to its final unremarkable eternity. Damnation and paradise are the same to them, as are heroes and villains, and no psychopomp cares one jot for great deeds left undone, other fates hanging in the balance, or bribes worth even a world’s ransom. But while drudgery is the lot of many psychopomps—interrupted only by the diversions they sometimes create for themselves—their system is not without flaws. There are creatures who would seek to deny the natural order of death—fiends that prey upon souls, spirits lost in their migration, and undead abominations. To counter such abnormalities and preserve the flow of souls as the multiverse requires, numerous specialized psychopomps exist to protect the dead and counter any who would seek to pervert the state of death to their own ends.

Noteworthy among psychopomps are their masks. Many who have dealings with the living wear some manner of grim face covering or funerary mask. While these masks are not part of a psychopomp’s body and grant them no special abilities, the legends of numerous cultures suggest that for a living creature to see a psychopomp’s unmasked countenance invites a premature death. Those psychopomps who deal predominately with the dead typically eschew such marks of station except as a formality.

As psychopomps help convey souls to all of the Outer Planes, and thus provide petitioners equally to each of those realms, they enjoy a special status among many planar races as respected neutrals. As such, most other planar races grant them a wide berth, with even archons and demons going out of their ways to avoid interfering with death’s emissaries. Soul-hungry daemons and reality-violating qlippoth are among the only races that actively oppose psychopomps. Consequently, the deadlier classes of psychopomps watch for and hunt disruptive members of these races, seeking to expunge the paths between the planes of any that would impede the certain cycle of death.

The death gods create the weakest psychopomps out of mortal souls, usually those who served Purgatory in life or worshiped deities of judgment. The gods may transform psychopomps which perform exemplary service into greater members of their kind, though rarely an exceptional hero or champion of Purgatory may become a superior psychopomp when she dies. There is little competitiveness or jealousy among the ranks of these creatures, as their primary motivation is fulfillment of their eternal duties, and there is little point in coveting another’s rewards and responsibilities.

The following are the most common types of psychopomps. Other varieties exist, tasked with more obscure duties for the gods of death, or responsible for alien worlds where the native creatures have radically different life cycles and outlooks compared to humanoids.

Psychopomp Ushers

Beings ancient and dispassionate rise above the psychopomp droves, emissaries of death who have presided over the dooms of whole nations, races, and worlds. These eldest and most efficient servants of death hold great respect for the gods of death, but are not necessarily their minions, striving to fulfill their own visions of death’s ultimate purpose and process over all other objectives.

Atropos the Last Sister
Barzahk the Passage
Ceyanan the Shepherd
Dammar the Denied
Imot the Symbol of Doom
Mother Vulture
Mrtyu, Death’s Consort
Narakaas the Cleansing Sentence
The Pale Horse
Phlegyas, Consoler of Atheists
Saloc, Minder of Immortals
Teshallas the Primordial Poison
Vale the Court of Ancestors

Creatures in "Psychopomp" Category

NameCR
Ahmuuth4
Algea11
Calaca8
Catrina5
Ember Weaver8
Esobok3
Fulgati18
Kere10
Memitim15
Morbai6
Morrigna13
Nosoi2
Olethros17
Shoki9
Vanth7
Viduus4
Yamaraj20

Psychopomp, Algea

This shrill swarm of whip-poor-wills flies in a spiral, their airborne antics infused with streamers of pale blue mist.

Algea CR 11

Source Bestiary 6 pg. 217
XP 12,800
N Diminutive outsider (extraplanar, psychopomp, swarm)
Init +14; Senses darkvision 60 ft., greater arcane sight, low-light vision, spiritsense; Perception +26
Aura grief (30 ft., DC 24)

Defense

AC 24, touch 24, flat-footed 14 (+10 Dex, +4 size)
hp 149 (13d10+78)
Fort +12, Ref +20, Will +16
Defensive Abilities swarm traits; Immune death effects, disease, poison, weapon damage; Resist acid 10, cold 10, electricity 10, fire 10, sonic 10; SR 22

Offense

Speed 20 ft., fly 80 ft. (good)
Melee swarm (3d6 plus distraction)
Space 10 ft., Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks distraction (DC 22), drain magic, soul cage
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 11th; concentration +19)
Constant—greater arcane sight
At will—mass invisibility (self only), speak with dead (DC 21)
3/day—call spirit (DC 23), confusion (DC 22)
1/day—plane shift (swarm counts as one creature; DC 27)

Statistics

Str 8, Dex 30, Con 23, Int 15, Wis 23, Cha 26
Base Atk +13; CMB —; CMD
Feats Alertness, Combat Casting, Great Fortitude, Improved Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes
Skills Acrobatics +26, Fly +36, Knowledge (planes, religion) +18, Perception +26, Sense Motive +26, Spellcraft +18, Stealth +38
Languages Abyssal, Aklo, Celestial, Infernal
SQ spirit touch

Ecology

Environment any (Boneyard)
Organization solitary or spiral (2–6 swarms)
Treasure none

Special Abilities

Aura of Grief (Su) Each creature within 30 feet of an algea must succeed at a DC 24 Will save at the start of its turn or become stricken with intense grief for 1 round. A creature so affected can take no actions, takes a –2 penalty to AC, and loses its Dexterity bonus (if any). Once a creature successfully saves against this effect, it is immune to all algeas’ auras of grief for 24 hours. Although this is an emotion and mind-affecting effect, it can still affect undead, despite their usual immunities to such effects. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Drain Magic (Su) Whenever the algea deals swarm damage to a creature, it also dispels an active spell on the creature or one of the creature’s items as per a targeted dispel magic (CL 11th). The algea can choose which effect to dispel for each creature, targeting the most troublesome first.
Soul Cage (Su) An algea’s distraction ability works against creatures normally immune to nausea. An incorporeal creature that fails its save against an algea’s distraction is trapped within the algea’s space for 1 round, during which it can’t move out of that space (even via teleportation effects and the like). If the algea uses plane shift on any trapped creatures, they take a –4 penalty to save against the effect.

Description

Algeas protect (and in some cases retrieve) souls that are at risk of being claimed by other entities, particularly spellcasters who dabbled with otherworldly forces but never officially pledged their souls. Algeas are particularly focused on intervening and “rescuing” souls in danger of being trapped within the Material Plane by powerful entities like the Great Old Ones or false prophets who have deluded minions into worshiping them as living gods.